Luca Stadium Chicken and Rice

Tidus and Yuna in Luca Bar, FFX“I hate it when this cafe is so packed. Every place in town is packed during the tournament. It’s a nightmare trying to find a place to eat.”

—a man in Luca, FFX

You’ll need kabob skewers for this recipe. Double-pronged ones like this are useful so the meat doesn’t slip around.

For the chicken marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, coarsely ground
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries, coarsely ground
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves, coarsely ground
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger (about 6 square inches)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup peanut or grapeseed oil
  • 6 medium green onions, chopped
  • 4 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, stemmed and minced
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme sprigs, divided in half
  • 1½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast tenders
  • 1½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs

For the rice:

  • 2 tablespoons peanut or grapeseed oil
  • 10½ oz. long-grain brown rice, jasmine or basmati (about 1½ cups)
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Combine marinade ingredients and half the thyme sprigs. Divide into two containers. Set aside one of the containers in the refrigerator (it will be used later as sauce for the cooked chicken). Add the raw chicken to the other container. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

While the chicken is marinating, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the rice and saute until it starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add onion, garlic, and salt. Stir and continue cooking for about 10 more minutes, reducing heat as needed and being careful not to let the rice burn.

Pour the coconut milk into a large measuring cup and add water until there are 4 cups of liquid in total. Slowly pour liquid into the rice. Stir in beans and bring to a simmer. Add the other half of the thyme sprigs and continue cooking until all liquid has been absorbed. Lower heat to very low and cover for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes.

About 1 hour before you’re ready to start cooking the chicken, soak the wooden skewers in water so they won’t burn. Prepare a grill for direct heat, using wood chunks such as pimento or apple if available.

Discard marinade. Thread the chicken onto the skewers. Grill at 350 degrees with the lid closed for about 5 minutes on each side, until beginning to blacken. Transfer to a platter and serve with rice and the other container of sauce for dipping.

Kilika Grilled Shrimp with Soba Noodles

Tidus in Kilika tavern“Thanks for inviting me to play with you! Stop by the tavern when you’re in Kilika, okay?”

—Kulukan, FFX

  • 1 8.8-oz. package of soba noodles
  • 3 tablespoons organic expeller-pressed canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 2 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced into rings
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Lime wedges

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring, until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.

In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of canola oil and 1 tablespoon of peanut oil with the tamari or soy sauce, brown sugar, and vinegar. Add the noodles and toss. Divide between 4 bowls.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to paper towels.

Add the garlic to the skillet and cook over low heat until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer the garlic to the paper towels.

Prepare a grill for high heat. In a bowl, combine the lime zest and juice with the remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Stir in the shrimp and season with salt. Grill the shrimp in a basket, turning once, until glazed and just white throughout, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle each bowl with green onions, cilantro, red pepper, fried shallots, and garlic. Arrange the shrimp on top and serve with lime wedges.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 488 calories, 17.3 g. fat, 1.7 g. saturated fat, 4.6 g. poly. fat, 8.1 g. mono. fat, 172.4 mg. cholesterol, 1310.1 mg. sodium, 399.9 mg. potassium, 47.6 g. carbohydrates, 2.5 g. fiber, 34.2 g. protein, vitamin A 9%, vitamin C 5%, calcium 9%, iron 35%

Besaid Smoked Duck

Besaid“Besaid Village.”

“They got any food there?”

–Wakka and Tidus, FFX

For the paste:

  • 6 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 head of garlic (about 8-12 cloves), peeled and chopped
  • 6 red Thai chiles, chopped
  • 6 macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 8″ fresh lemongrass stalk, outer leaves removed and center chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (about 3 square inches)
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric (about 1 square inch)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup peanut oil

For the duck:

  • 10 oz. chopped kale
  • 1 whole duck, about 4 lbs.
  • Steamed white rice (optional)

Combine the paste ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until combined. In a large bowl, mix half the paste with the kale. Set aside.

Prepare a grill for indirect medium heat (about 300 degrees), with a pan of water under the area where the duck will be cooking.

Wash the duck inside and out with cold water and drain, cavity side down, for 2 minutes. Trim off excess skin. Pat dry with paper towels and place breast-side up on a rack in a roasting pan.

Using a sharp knife, cut a criss-cross pattern over the breast, being careful to cut through most of the fat without cutting into the meat. Prick all over the rest of the skin with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut all the way through to the meat. Rub duck with the remaining paste.

Stuff as much kale into the duck as possible and truss the legs. Refrigerate the remaining kale.

Move roasting pan to the grill, and cook, covered, for about 1 hour. Prick all over with a knife, turn to breast-side down, cover, and cook for 1 hour. Prick all over, turn to breast-side up, cover, and cook for 1 hour.

You should now be at a total of about 3 hours cook time. Check the internal temperature of the duck. Continue cooking until it reaches 165 degrees.

Increase the grill temperature to 400 degrees (or transfer to pre-heated 400 degree oven) and continue cooking for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the skin is golden-brown and crispy.

Remove the duck from the grill, transfer to a carving board, and let rest, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the remaining kale from the refrigerator and sauté in a large saucepan, covered, for about 10 minutes, until tender.

Remove the kale stuffing from inside the duck and discard. Pour off the liquid from the roasting pan into a large measuring cup and refrigerate. (You can use the duck fat later to make french fries and other delicious things!)

Carve the duck and transfer to a serving platter. Serve with the sautéed kale and steamed rice.

Serves 2 people.

Al Bhed Pomegranate Soup

Tidus at the Bikanel oasis“There were these Al Bhed that saved my life when I first came to Spira. They took me on their ship, even gave me food.”

—Tidus, FFX

Try substituting a bag of frozen vegetarian meatballs to reduce the fat in this recipe or speed up the cooking time.

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ cup minced curly parsley

For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise
  • 1 head of garlic (about 8-12 cloves), peeled and halved
  • 4 oz. yellow split peas (about ½ cup)
  • 4 small red beets, scrubbed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 oz. brown basmati rice (about 1 cup)
  • 6 oz. baby spinach
  • 1 bunch green onions (discard the white ends and use the green leafy parts), chopped
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 cups pomegranate juice

Combine the meat and grated onions in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, turmeric, and parsley, and mix lightly, being careful not to overwork the meat. Shape into chestnut-size meatballs and set aside in the refrigerator.

Heat butter and oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and garlic and fry until golden, about 20 minutes. Stir in the split peas and cook for an additional minute.

Pour in 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add beets and salt and continue to simmer, covered, for 20 more minutes.

Add meatballs and rice to the pot. Return to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Stir in spinach, green onions, mint, oregano, and pomegranate juice. Continue simmering, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Before serving, check a meatball to make sure it’s cooked all the way through.

Makes about 10 heaping 1-cup servings. Per serving: 346 calories, 15.9 g. fat, 0.5 g. saturated fat, 1.3 g. poly. fat, 7 g. mono. fat, 39.2 mg. cholesterol, 555.9 mg. sodium, 513.9 mg. potassium, 37.7 g. carbohydrates, 5.6 g. fiber, 13.7 g. protein, vitamin A 14%, vitamin C 16%, calcium 6%, iron 14%